WASHINGTON — Top U.S. defense officials will meet with the chief executives of the eight largest U.S. defense contractors to discuss industry’s capacity to meet Ukraine’s weapons needs if the war with Russia continues for years.
Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks told reporters Tuesday she plans to participate in a classified roundtable with defense CEOs on Wednesday to discuss “what can we do to help them, what do they need to generate supply.”
A defense official told Defense News the Pentagon “will convene a meeting of our largest prime contractors, to enable a classified discussion of DoD requirements across broad portfolio areas.”
“We will discuss industry proposals to accelerate production of existing systems and develop new, modernized capabilities critical to the Department’s ongoing security assistance to Ukraine and long-term readiness of U.S. and ally/partner forces,” the official added.
Facing questions about how the U.S. military will replenish stocks of weapons it’s sending to Ukraine to fight Russia, Hicks said she was set to meet with Raytheon Technologies’ chief executive, Gregory Hayes, later on Tuesday to discuss the matter.
A Raytheon-Lockheed Martin joint venture makes Javelin anti-tank missiles, while Raytheon produces Stinger anti-aircraft missiles. The Stingers are in low-rate production and are facing obsolescence, though Hicks did not mention them by name or detail potential hurdles.
“In some specific munitions areas, we know we have some obsolescence issues,” Hicks said. “But we have seen, very patriotically, members of industry lean forward and indicate their willingness to work together.”
Hicks said the Biden administration is in a “continuing dialogue” with Ukrainian officials over the types of weapons it plans to send, and that presidential decisions on the matter are pending.
“Yes, we will continue to look at the type of capabilities that the Ukrainians are asking for in terms of how to give them more range and distance,” Hicks said.
While Ukraine is a priority, Hicks said, the process could reveal broader supply chain vulnerabilities that must be remedied, primarily to maintain supplies for the U.S. military.
Joe Gould is the senior Pentagon reporter for Defense News, covering the intersection of national security policy, politics and the defense industry. He served previously as Congress reporter.